Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Our Greatest Need

So many of you have asked how you can help and support our family as each day we get closer to adding three children to our clan.  Well, here are some answers.

Right now our greatest need is prayer...

-that these children would recognize us as their parents, as their family

-that all our children would feel loved and secure during this transition and that as parents, we would have an extra measure of patience, grace, wisdom and understanding

-that there would be some major deep bonding between all of the children in our family

-that the process would go smoothly and our faith would increase as we see God's hand at work

There are some physical things we could use as well.  We are big fans of sharing and would gladly accept gently used items in addition to new.  

Here are some things we can use:  (Crossed out items mean the need has already been met - thank you!, Highlighted items are what we could most use at this time.)

Winter coats - Boys size 10/12; girls size 7; boys size 3

 Warm clothing like winter pajamas, sweaters/sweatshirts, & pants with adjustable waists: we don't yet know exact sizes, but here are our best guesses - Boys size 10/12 , Girls size 6, Boys size 3

Bedding:  full size sheets, waterproof full size mattress pad

Booster seats - we could use 1

Bikes -  2 helmets for boys (one for a 3 year old, one for a 10 year old), a bike suitable for a 10 year old boy and one for an 8 year old boy

Baby carrier or sling - we're looking for something like a Baby Bjorn or Ergo baby, etc. to use for the youngest boy while we're in Uganda and for a while when we get home.  We'd be happy to borrow as we don't anticipate using it for long term.  Only requirement is that it needs to be able to carry a three year old.  

Multicultural Children's books - any children's books that feature a variety of ethnic groups -or even just people with different skin colors - in a positive light would be great.  The following book has been added to our home library - thank you!

These are not an urgent need at this time, but will be a great blessing to us when we return home with the children : 

-Gift certificates for: 
  •   Target or Once Upon A Child will be so helpful as I'm sure we will need to pick up some unexpected items when the children are home
  •  restaurants or grocery stores will be great as I know from experience that the first several weeks home we will be spending most of our time and energy getting to know each other and getting everyone adjusted - and not so much time will be left for preparing meals 
  •  things we can enjoy as a family, like the Children's Museum or the movies, etc.  

Finally, there's always that 10+ passenger van that we'll need to accommodate everyone.  If you have one of those laying around, likely I'm sure, let us know - ha!  Would you please join us in praying that God would provide a vehicle.  

Thanks for coming alongside us in hands on support and in prayer! 
We're so excited to continue to share our journey with you!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

All Aboard the Crazy Train

You know that thing where you say,"I could never do ______" and then it ends up happening to you within the next week or so?  Well, it seems that in the past 2-3 years, every single time I say "I can't ____" or "I don't ______" or "I could never ______" God quickly turns my protests upside down.  For example, this  one year old blog started precisely 24 hours after I told someone,"I don't do that technological stuff, and I would certainly never create a blog."  Umm, yeah...that.  We shouldn't be surprised then, that my once-upon-a time-vision of a "small family with 2, maybe at most 3 children" would be exchanged for something far beyond our imagination.

If I've learned anything at all in recent years and months, I've been realizing that living for myself is meaningless.  While it might feel good for a moment or two, being my self-centered self always leaves me coming up empty.  Now, I know I am no Mother Theresa, no saintly woman easily laying aside my own comforts and agendas for the sake of others.  But what I've been discovering, little bit by little bit, is that when I put another's need before my own - even when I don't want to - there is blessing.  Though it doesn't always come easily to me, I want to live my life broken and poured out for the sake of Jesus, stepping out in faith, going where He's called me, doing what He's called me to do, no matter how hard.  Some may call me crazy, but I want to get to the end of my life tired and ragged - like I've run the race and given it my all.

There is so much hardship, so much suffering in our world.  It's in our neighborhoods, schools, churches, communities, not to mention all over the globe.  I have been learning, sometimes painfully, that I have an opportunity to use my limited time on earth and my resources for something other than serving myself, for something with eternal value.  I want to rise up, fight against the selfishness within me, and actually do something to make an impact on those hurting.

That "do" starts for Ben and me, for our family, by obeying the call to open our home once again to children who don't have a home.  Right now we are praying about returning to Uganda and adding a sibling group of 3, yes three (ages 2-10), to our family.  You may be thinking "You're crazy!"  And you know what, you are right.  While raising seven children will undoubtedly require sacrifice and difficulty at times, we know that we won't give up anything that Christ won't return 100 fold.

Would you please pray with us as we seek direction in the steps we are to take - that God would blast open any barriers, that He would provide all we need spiritually, mentally and financially (as He always does), and that we would remain focused on Him throughout the process- not distracted by "the winds and the waves" (Matthew 14:30).

And please pray for these sweet children, that God's will would be done in their lives, that they would be given the love and comfort of a home and a family, and that their hearts would be prepared for any changes God has planned for them.

We are now beginning the fundraising process starting with a garage sale to be held mid-May.  We gladly welcome any donations and help.  As you're cleaning out your garages and closets for spring, please consider donating your hidden treasures, large and small.  We are happy to collect items from you or schedule a time when they can be dropped off at our home.  If you're willing to help, please contact me at KristineMWilson@hotmail.com.  Also, if you have other ideas of avenues for us to raise the money needed for this large expense, please let us know.  We are confident that God will take care of all our needs in the resources it takes to bring these children home from Uganda.

Thank you again for coming alongside us in prayer and in love and support.

***Please note - we have not yet been given a referral (meaning this is not yet official) - but it's something we're pursuing.

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Year of Parties

So for better or for worse, we're really not a big birthday party family.  We celebrate birthdays but don't really get into parties with friends.  It's just not our thing.  But, feeling that Vero needed to have at least one experience with a special themed birthday party, I saddled up with a few random inspirations and trusty Pinterest at my side and made this the year of themed-birthday parties for each one of the kids.

So, hold up, I'm getting ahead of myself.  This year was our first Christmas all TOGETHER as a family.  And what a celebration it was!  As you can tell from the picture below it was practically perfect in every way.

Here are a few other pictures from Christmas morning

Magical, right?

Now, onto the birthdays...

 C has been into reading chapter books.  He's been excited in particular about starting the Hardy Boys series, so I took that as a theme and ran with it.  Taking a nod from the very first book in the series, The Tower Treasure, we based the party on finding the missing treasure from Tower Mansion.  Invitations were mailed in sealed manila envelopes marked "Top Secret".  Guests arrived at "Tower Mansion" to find a crime scene and had to offer up the secret password before entering. 

 Happy 7th Birthday C-dog!

This tray was out for observation for a bit.  Then it was taken away and guests had to use their detective skills to recall as many things from the "scene" as they could.  

Later we played a version of hot potato with the homemade "dynamite" on the tray.   
C wasn't excited about that or anything.  

Check out this magnifying glass cake and the detective holding it.  

Here are the little detectives deciphering clues to find the Tower Treasure.  

The treasure consisted of gold coins and jewels.

After some snacks. guests left with their very own Case Files including mystery solving necessities
 like magnifying glasses, notebooks for writing down clues, spy gear
 and candy to keep up their energy on the job.  

V's birthday is just 5 days after C's which means that in the span of a week we hosted 2 birthday parties.  While we had a great time, I'm not so sure that will happen again :)  

For our vibrant and colorful V, we had a rainbow themed birthday party.  
Invitations went out on paint swatch samples.  

Check out that outfit - yep, she proudly picked it herself.  

What Rainbow party is complete without a rainbow of streamers?

As guests arrived they worked on coloring in a banner. 

Here is the final product.

We played some rainbow themed games, ate some rainbow themed food...

and used the colors of the rainbow to make some beautiful creations.  
Somehow I missed taking pictures of the final products, so this picture of our supplies will have to suffice.  

Happy 7th Birthday V!

Stay tuned for our next birthday party installment - Spa & Camping themes are up next.


Monday, January 13, 2014

It's been a Year

It has been A YEAR since Vero and I landed at the La Crosse airport after traveling 30+ long hours from Uganda.  Vero's first travel experience was quite the adventure.  Though it's been a year, I remember it clearly.  We started the day off by saying goodbye to some of the missionaries at GSF.  It had rained the night before, making the red clay roads muddy and a bit treacherous.  As we traveled I prayed that the car wouldn't get stuck in the mud like the huge farm equipment we had seen stranded along our route.  We arrived safely at our first destination - Watoto Church.  We made our way through the metal detectors and under the enormous white tent.  We found a place to sit near the back which was good because I started crying when the first song began and tears proceeded to roll down my cheeks the. entire. service. I made a complete spectacle of myself - the only muzungo in a sea of dark faces with a little Ugandan girl at my side and it that wasn't eye catching enough, I was weeping.  I can't explain why exactly, I was just overwhelmed by all that we had been through and all the unknown yet to come.  And then there was something so powerful and humbling about singing Chris Tomlin's worship songs on the other side of the world.  We sang the song, "Your Grace is Enough".  Here are some of the words:  

"Great is your love and justice, God
You use the weak to lead the strong
You lead us in the song of your salvation
And all your people sing along.

Remember Your people,
 Remember Your children
Remember Your promise, oh God.

Your grace is enough....for me."

I was begging God to remember me, remember us, equip us in the biggest transition of our lives and praying that somehow, some way it would all be used for His glory.

I finally pulled myself together and we left the worship service.  We had some time to kill so we went to the Entebbe Zoo.  Vero had never seen so many animals and didn't know quite what to do with it all.  She was not a fan of being close to the animals and wanted nothing to do with the camel rides or the monkeys that were running around all over the grounds.  But she did enjoy watching the orangutans, and of course was happy to get a snack (we did a lot of bonding over food those first few weeks and months).  Finally it was time to hear to the airport to catch our midnight flight.   

Even though it was getting late, she refused to sleep. Her face didn't give it away, but her alertness revealed her excitement about riding on a plane.  For hours she look expectantly out the window.  We got through the luggage check, then security and finally to the dreaded immigration desk.  After some fuss and panic over paperwork we were finally able to get through to our gate.  The flight was delayed and by the time we got on the plane it was nearly 1:00 am.  We took our seats and buckled up, but before the plane took off, Vero finally gave in to her tired state and fell asleep.  When we landed in London, Vero spent much of our 3-4 hour layover watching planes take off every two minutes.  She was loving the traveling and only tried to walk off with random strangers once. Ha!

Finally, after one more excruciating layover, we arrived in La Crosse and walked into the arms of our family and friends.

And now, it's a year later.  I'm not going to lie.  During these last 12 months we have faced very real heartaches and challenges.  While the "coming home" pictures are beautiful and precious, the reality is that meshing together two different worlds, six personalities and lots of unmet expectations has been tough. For all of us.  I've learned a lot about myself.  Not all of it has been good.  I recently saw a post on an adoption Facebook group that I can completely relate to: 

Just think, without adoption we would have believed we were still good parents.  We would have been able to look at ourselves and not see the really ugly mess hidden under the surface.  Some people live their whole lives without discovering the beastly parts of their parenting, never knowing it's in there, deep inside under the surface. God has chosen to bless us by revealing the dark things we never thought we were capable of feeling/doing through adoption.  We may be surprised by the way we feel or the way we respond, but God isn't.  He knew we were capable of this the whole time.     

It seems weird to think of a mirror that reveals the ugliest parts of you as a blessing, but it has been.  By being more aware of my mess, our messes, we've experienced so much growth and progress.  While we still have a long way to go - and I know I will continue to mess up daily - God is good and faithful.  He has remembered us.  He has kept his promise.  He has grafted us together as a family.  He is healing brokenness - in my life and in each of the lives of our children. 

In her book, "Kisses from Katie," Katie Davis writes,
"Adoption is wonderful and beautiful and the greatest blessing I have ever experienced.  Adoption is also difficult and painful.  Adoption is a beautiful picture of redemption.  It is the Gospel in my living room.  And sometimes it's just hard."

I am so grateful to the friends and family who have rallied around us in love, practical support, and prayer these past years.  Thank you for being there during the hard times. Thank you for celebrating the good and reminding me of it when I couldn't see it.  Thank you for helping us live out the call of the Gospel right in our living room.   

Friday, February 22, 2013

Share the LOVE

 It is nearly impossible to talk about Vero's adoption without mentioning the place that was her home for the last 5 years before coming home to her "forever family".  That place is Good Shepherd's Fold orphanage in Uganda.  Good Shepherd's Fold (GSF) is nestled between two little villages about 20 km west of Jinja in the Buikwe District.  While one of its primary goals is to share the love of Jesus by meeting the needs of the children in its care, it is so much more than "just" an orphanage.  In addition to caring for the 90 children that reside there, GSF operates a school that serves more than 300 children, provides free medical care to the community through their clinic, and offers humanitarian assistance as well as evangelistic outreach to the surrounding communities.  

Why am I telling you all of this you might be wondering.  I'm telling you because my experience during our brief stay at this place has claimed part of my heart.  Even though we've been home 6 weeks now, a day hasn't gone by that I haven't thought about GSF and the people there.  The missionaries and the children are in my prayers and have consumed my thoughts.  We have poured over pictures of the dear ones we met
 and have prayed for them by name.  

What is it about GSF that has made such an impression? 
 I'll do my best to tell you.    

The missionaries at GSF serve wholeheartedly and give so much of themselves day after day.  They serve with humility, grace, generosity and love.  These people have a passion for the children in their care and invest in their lives in a beautiful and rich way.  They bring the hope of the gospel by living it out and 
by teaching the "least of these." (Matt. 25:31-46)

It's the drastic difference between Ugandan life in comparison with life in the States. I've been moved by coming home to SO much material wealth.  Meanwhile life in Uganda, in so many ways, is so. much. simpler.  Daily life is a struggle to survive for most.  Acquiring basic necessities, like food and water, is an ongoing challenge.  Seeing the way others live (as in the majority of the world's population) has really messed me up.   I can no longer go into my previous favorite stores without feeling literally ill and repulsed by the amount of stuff.  Definition of STUFF - things I've been fooled into thinking I need.  And I've taken the bait, folks, hook, line, and sinker.  Experiencing life on the "other side" has caused me to examine my life and my heart to reveal what I truly value and where I place my hope.  (For more on being messed up in a good way read Jen Hatmaker's book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against ExcessShane Claiborne's Irresistible Revolution, and Francis Chan's Crazy Love)

 What else has made an impression?  Definitely the children.  Here are just a few of the special children we met.  When you look at their pictures I don't just want you to see a Ugandan child on the other side of the world.  
I want you to look into their eyes and know their names.  

This is Festo, Nicholas and Micah.  
Prayerfully one of these sweet boys will be joining his forever family in America soon.  

This is dear Lilly.  She loves her Bible and definitely has my heart.

This is Jessica.  She came to GSF with her brother and sister Joan (pictured below).  

This is Ishmael.  He is the same age as our Porter (2 1/2) but due to severe malnutrition he is very low in weight for his age and behind developmentally.  With quality care at GSF he is growing in stature and
progressing developmentally as well.  

This is Betty.  Her smile lights up any room. 

This is sweet Matthew, one of the several children at GSF with special needs.  

Whatever the reason and whatever the way, 
God has given me a burden for these children and a passion for the work at GSF. 

This brings us back to my original question.  Why am I telling you?  
I'm telling you because I want you to know about the work at GSF and care about the ministry and people there, too.  I know that on my own I am so very limited to what I'm able to do and give.  But I know - because I've seen it - that when people come together they can make an incredible difference and impact others for good.  

This organization needs the help and support of people like you in order for them to serve these children and their community.  
I'm asking you to consider coming alongside this ministry with me to help those in need. 

What can you do to help?

You can pray - pray for the work being done there, for the missionaries and employees, 
as well as for the children who live at and attend school at GSF. 

You can sponsor a child -  The sponsorship program at Good Shepherd's Fold has three primary goals:
1. To provide a meaningful relationship between each child and his/her sponsor
2. To provide prayer support for each child
3. To provide GSF with the funds necessary to care for each child.  

The cost to sponsor a GSF child is $35 a month.  Each child at Good Shepherd's Fold needs at least 3 sponsors to cover basic expenses.  

For more information on child sponsorship through GSF click HERE

You can give directly to GSF -  Support the ministry financially by clicking here

You can help provide basic supplies - right now some of the greatest needs are black shoes for school (all sizes), underwear (boys & girls size 2T-4T), pajamas (for warmer weather) for toddlers and older children, and all-in-one cloth diapers for the babies home (here's a link for the diapers).  If you are willing to donate items, get them to me by March 9th and I will make sure they get to GSF.   

James 1:27 says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after widows and orphans in their distress..."

There are so many ways to get involved.  Please, share the love of Christ by putting your faith and religion into action.  Make a difference in the life of another.  Let these children know that they are not forgotten.  Show them that you care.  


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Introducing Our Girl

We've been home about a month now and I think it's high time she makes her debut.  Please forgive us for the delay.  My "type A" on-top-of-it personality apparently got left behind in Uganda.

Introducing the newest member of our family, sweet and playful 


As you may be able to tell by the picture, she has a bit of a sassy side too.  
Hmm, sassy & sweet?  She just may be a little like her Momma.  

Here is a timeline of where we've been and the steps God faithfully 
guided us through to bring her home to us.  

Fall of 2011 - Seriously begin considering adoption for our family.  This involved lots of prayer and the use of a little thing we call Google.  

January 4, 2012 - feel a nudge from the Lord that there is a 4 year old girl out there waiting to join our family

March 12 - First home study visit - a home study is a report written by a social worker stating whether or not they can recommend the family for adoption.  This just happened to correspond with demo on our bathroom.  "Hello, welcome to our home.  Don't mind the dust or the fact that we haven't showered." Yep, bad planning.  

Adoption paperwork is now my full time job.

May 24 - After three in person visits, more paperwork and lots of training our home study is complete!  

May 25 - Applications to Good Shepherd's Fold and USCIS turned in and mailed off - 
we didn't waste any time!

July 8 - Biometrics at USCIS in the Twin Cities

July & August - Lots and lots of fundraising and prayers for God to make this possible.  Read more about it here and here.  

August 31 - Interview with Jimmy from GSF

September 1 - Meet with a whole group of families who have served at and adopted from GSF.  Seeing this community of believers with their little ones was an amazing experience for us and now more than ever we were hoping and praying that this was the direction the Lord would have for us.

September 14 - Found out we were approved to adopt by the Leadership Team at GSF.  YAY! 

October 1  - Received our referral for Vero, 5 years old at the time.  I look at her birthday and realize the Lord was whispering to me about her when she was 4 years old!
"Soon to the be the proud Momma of 4: 3 homegrown & 1 heart grown!"

November 11 - Meet up with some GSF adoptive families and some past and current missionaries serving there.  

November 20 - Phone call from Claudia.  Seeing all those extra numbers on the caller ID sure made my heart beat!  We have a court date - Dec. 18!

December 12 - Leave for Uganda.  

December 13  - Meet Vero in the Entebbe airport!  I wish we would have taken a picture but it was like 1:00 AM and we were all so very tired (plus the vain side of myself really did not want documentation of how disgusting I look after 30+ hours of travel, thank you very much.)  Here is a picture of her all dressed up the next day. 

December 14 - First court date

December 17 - Second court date

December 20 - Legal Guardianship granted!

December 21 - Went to the passport office to turn in paperwork.  Trying to rush things through before the holidays, we ended up getting our passport by the end of the day.  
Being in Uganda in December definitely had its perks!

December 22 - Medical Exam at IOM

December 24 - Official theme song for our journey to the Pearl of Africa declared: 

10, 000 Reasons

OK, that didn't really happen.  But we were blessed to walk this road with a family who live just down the highway from us in Minneapolis.  As God would have it, they were in UG the same time we were - we went through court dates, embassy appointments, many hours of waiting at the coffee shop across the street from the attorney's office, and the passport office together. Ryan leads worship at a church in the Twin Cities and he led worship a few times at GSF.  This song was always on the list.  

December 25 - Celebrate Christmas in Uganda!

December 27 - Turn in paperwork at the Embassy in Kampala

January 2, 2013 - Interview at the Embassy

January 3 - Pick up the visa from the Embassy 

January 6 - After some panic at the airport in Entebbe, we made our flight, flew to London, then Chicago, and then...

January 7 - Arrived at Home!

Look at all these great people who welcomed us!

If you haven't heard me say it before, thank you to everyone who helped us bring this precious child home.  I am overwhelmed by how many people God has used throughout this process and the variety of ways they've been a blessing.  We will never know this side of heaven just how many people offered prayers on our behalf but we are truly grateful.  We are grateful for every prayer, every word of encouragement, every dollar given, every act of kindness, and every person who walked this road beside us.  
From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

4 Stockings for 4 Kiddos!

In less than 2 weeks Ben and I will be leaving for Africa.  This promises to be the craziest and most exciting - and probably most emotional - Christmas we've ever experienced.  Our bags are packed, the Christmas decorations are up - all that remains on our holiday "to-do" list is prayer and preparing ourselves and our wee ones for our departure.

I know I've said it one thousand times but truly, God has provided in incredible ways.  Every need - spiritual, physical, monetary - has been met.  And they've been met by you.  We can't express our gratitude enough for everyone who has supported our family throughout this journey. More to me now than ever before Christmas is a reason for celebrating God's faithfulness - the fulfillment of a promise, of many promises.

Rejoicing in His faithfulness in our lives and yours,

The Wilsons